The ‘slasher movie’, for anyone who is unaware is best defined as a film involving the methodical murder of a group of people by a single character whose identity and motives are often (but not always) ambiguous. The genre has been used around the world, however its golden age comes from the American and Italian film industries between 1974-1985. However, this has been recognised in hindsight, as the majority of the films currently lauded as the best of the genre received mixed to poor reviews on their initial releases. If you are reading this then I hope you are open to the idea of watching half-naked, young people being brutally and suddenly murdered for no reason, because, for all the merits I will present here, there is no getting away from the nudity or blood with slasher films!
When we go to the cinema or when we settle down to watch Netflix, what we are looking for are three things: originality, escapism, and most importantly, entertainment. You might have other personal motives for watching films, which I can heartily recommend horror films in general for, but it is these three categories which are the heart of any film, and all bad or boring films will be lacking in at least one. I hope the following personal recommendations will inspire the same love of the genre in you as in me, but be careful because what is seen in these films cannot be unseen.
Nowhere in film with you find a more creative and more unpredictable group of people than those who script the deaths in slasher movies. Whether someone is being stabbed from beneath the bed by an arrow (Friday the 13th, 1980), having their head shoved into boiling water (My Bloody Valentine, 1981), or two people being impaled by the same spear *ahem* mid-coitus (Bay of Blood, 1971), there are a wealth of inventive and insane kills which make every film memorable. Furthermore, and with suitable lack of spoilers, there are a sorry lack of twist endings in your conventional rom-coms and dramedies; if you want to fall from your chair in astonishment look no further than Sleepaway Camp (1983), April Fools Day (1986) and Scream 2 (1997).
Films which resonate with you can be powerful, however even the most hard-hitting films are reliant on a total immersion in the scenario being presented to you and the suspension of worries about the world around you. You may think that repeated gory murders are a hard topic to feel any deep connection to, but I would encourage you to watch Black Christmas (1974) and Alice, Sweet, Alice (1976) for their intelligent discussion of relatable issues while keeping to the pace and intensity of a ‘slasher’ remarkably well. Alternatively, if you desire an insane suspension of reality in which to escape, then Theatre of Blood (1974), Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and Final Destination 3 (2006) will take you into universes where the grisly passings are as elaborate and unbelievable as they are brutally entertaining.
Finally the most important of the categories, because after all, you could watch the most unoriginal and mundane film and still enjoy yourself enough to call it a good film; lord knows, these films keep winning Oscars so someone must enjoy them! Here are three films which in my opinion are the most entertaining slasher films in existence:
Deep Red (1974) – children’s lullabies are really creepy in the right context and the vivid use of colour by Dario Argento make this the best giallo film to come out of Italy.
Halloween (1978) – I hate to be a cliché about this, but the score, writing and direction on this film rightly earn it the top spot in most lists of the best slasher films.
StageFright: Aquarius (1987) – This film has someone killing people while dressed as a massive owl – I feel no need to elaborate on why this is entertaining!